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United in Scientific Curiosity
Video by Melissa Bouwman & Mira Zimet


Ph.D Program in Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography (MBBO)

Recently ranked one of the top five marine graduate programs in the nation (Chronicle of Higher Education 2007 Vol LIII Number 19), the Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography program focuses on the study of marine organisms and their interactions with each other and the physical environment, as well as the nature, functions and properties of complex marine ecosystems. Key research areas include microbial ecology, biogeochemistry, environmental genomics and population genetics.

Graduate study in marine biology and biological oceanography is administered through the Department of Biological Sciences and leads to the Ph.D. in Biological Sciences. The program includes formal courses, a selection of topical seminars, opportunities to teach undergraduates, and practical experience working with faculty on their ongoing research projects — culminating in individual research topics leading toward a degree.

Upon admission, students are assigned an initial faculty advisor who, in collaboration with the faculty guidance committee, ensures that each student has an adequate background to study in his/her chosen area. Early in the program of study, students begin working with one or more faculty members to develop a topic of independent research. Ph.D. candidates take written and oral Qualifying Examinations, typically in their fourth or fifth semester. Following this examination, doctoral students devote most of their academic time to their research. The final defense of the dissertation is typically taken in the fifth or sixth year.


Ph.D program in Ocean Sciences

Interdisciplinary work in Ocean Sciences is avaialble through the Graduate Program in Ocean Sciences.


  • Department of Biological Sciences
  • University of Southern California
  • Allan Hancock Foundation Building
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0371